History of the St. Matthias Ladies of Charity, Lanham, Maryland

The LOC unit at St. Matthias, Lanham MD are from Prince George County, under the Archdiocese of Washington D.C.

St. Matthias the Apostle Parish in Lanham, Maryland, was carved out of two existing neighborhood parishes in 1960, and a new church facility was built and dedicated in 1962. In 1966, the founding Pastor, Reverend E. Albert Hughes, recognized the need for a ladies group for this new parish, and the St. Matthias Ladies of Charity was born! The first president was Mrs. Luzelle Schwartz, and she along with a small group of eight women became the first members.

The Ladies’ duties were to collect clothing and food for the needy in the community, prepare mailings to the parishioners, and sponsor the Anointing of the Sick service twice a year. The Ladies also participated in selected projects undertaken by the Prince Georges County Ladies of Charity. One month a year, the Ladies helped at Martha’s Closet, a charity where children’s clothing was collected and distributed to needy families.

A church pantry was formally developed during those early years with the support of the parish and school who donated non-perishable food items. This enabled bags of food to be prepared and delivered to needy families at the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter holidays. They also gave many bags of food to Martha’s Closet and to the Missionary Sisters of Charity, Mother Teresa’s order who care for AIDS patients. Among other projects, the group knitted “premie” caps for premature infants and made lap quilts for nursing home residents.

The Ladies remained a small group until 2001 when membership increased, and the unit grew into the valuable working group that it is today. Committees were formed to carry out administrative tasks and a set of By-Laws was developed. Fundraising endeavors included missal sales and participation in parish flea markets. The pantry still plays a vital role in helping the needy, and the Christmas Giving Tree, Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Baskets, and Bingo and Birthday parties at Sacred Heart Nursing Home are all annual events. The Ladies have sponsored Mother/Daughter brunches for the parish, arranged for celebratory functions for new deacons and priests upon their ordinations, collected funds in a baby bottle campaign for a local Pregnancy Aid organization, and collected food for the AIDS group Damian Ministries and Gift of Peace who house the elderly homeless.

But it has not been all work! The Ladies have enjoyed many outings including a tour of the Franciscan Monastery, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Washington Flower show, and the John Paul Cultural Center. Small gifts and lunch at local restaurants are always a part of their Christmas celebration. Lenten Bible Studies and Days of Recollection help nurture their spirits and enable them to continue with their work.

Our Ladies of Charity unit is a vital part of the Saint Matthias Community, and we will celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2016. We look forward to many more years of service and prayerfully seek the guidance of Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Louise de Marillac, and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton to make our future endeavors successful.

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